One of the first set of paper dolls was not designed
for children. The paper doll sets were for adults. This was the 'Pantin' which first appeared in France in the
early 1700s. They were flat, pasteboard figures which, when assembled and strung
perfomed acrobatic antics. They were in the form of Jump-Jack clowns and famous ballerinas of the day.
Pantins hung conveniently
in drawing rooms to amuse visitors and to while away tedious hours of the dwellers in the house. People also carried
Pantins in their pockets and enjoyed them in public, taking delight in the applause of the bystanders.
Later, in the eighteenth century, both in England and France, commercial paper
doll sheets designed exclusively for children began to appear. These were the familiar
dolls with cutout dresses, the basic format, which has survived and remains popular to this day. The French must be
credited with the earliest commercial exploitation of the paper doll.
shop-made dolls. which show the devoted care of their long gone little owners appeal to one's sentiments, it is the home-made one, some crude, some beautiful, which really tug at one's heart strings.
The earlier example in the United States, of an attempt at commercial paper dolls, is culled
from a copy of Godey's Lady's Book for November 1859. In the United States, the
introduction of the paper doll as a commercial enterprise is generally credited to McLoughlin
Brothers. For more than a hundred years this was a familiar name to children as that of the publishers of a great variety of toy books.
During the nineteenth century, many "portrait" paper dolls appeared. General and Mrs. Tom Thumb, and even, the Rough Rider, Teddy Roosevely
were immortalized as paper dolls.
In 1901, not long after the close of the
Spanish-American War, a Chicago Sunday paper undertook to instruct the rising generation
about our newly acquired islands. They did it as a supplement to the paper, in a
series of paper dolls. There was Auinaldo, a Philippine lady, a Macabebe warrior and a Tagalong girl.
In 1909 the Bodley Press Associates of Spring field, Massachusetts, issued a folder of excellently
designed paper dolls, Dorothy Dimple, her sister Susan, neighbor Alice, and her friend Toby the clown, and a group of various nationalities.
In 1911, the Hearst Sunday papers exploited
some of the popular actresses in paper dolls. It fairly rained paper dolls.
The twentieth century saw the greatest number
of paper dolls being produced - especially of movie stars and other celebrities. Paper doll clubs and conventions were
created and attended by many of the paper doll artists themselves. Any little girl of today might scorn paper dolls
as old fashioned. After all, today's paper dolls do not use batteries or a remote control.
Thankfully, grandparents and folks with long
memories of their own hours of fun playtime will give paper dolls as treasures to their select audiences of children.
When we view the art styles, occupations
and cotumes of collectible paper doll characters, they give us historical information
of previous years and centuries.
And since 2000, adults and children have enjoyed crafted magnetic paper dolls and teddy bears with individual magnetic clothing by the company 'Wacky' Magnets™
. Each paper doll set is the company's laminated interpretation of an ageless play activity. These hand crafted
play sets are tomorrow's memories.
Today, paper dolls are fashioned in plastic, wood, foam and even encased in laminate for durability.
But most importantly, paper dolls should be fun and enjoyable
to play with, admire and collect. Begin your collection or a little girl's collection today with one of many designs available at the GreenFlea Market, every Sunday
on Columbus Avenue between 77th and 76th Streets, Manhattan, New York City.
Paper Doll History researched and compiled by Carolyn Smith, founder
of 'Wacky' Magnets™